Taylor Swift is calling on Tennessee lawmakers to get rid of racist monuments, arguing “villains don’t deserve statues”.
“As a Tennessean, it makes me sick that there are monuments standing in our state that celebrate racist historical figures who did evil things,” tweeted Swift, who owns a home in Nashville. “Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest were DESPICABLE figures in our state history and should be treated as such.”
Swift’s outrage comes after demonstrators toppled a statue of Carmack that sat away from Tennessee Capitol on 30 May. Carmack was a prominent attorney and newspaperman in Tennessee and served in their state senate from 1901 to 1908. His statue was erected in 1927. Swift noted Carmack was known for writing pro-lynching articles and promoted violent attacks against the trailblazing Black journalist Ida B Wells. Tennessee has said it would replace the statue. But Swift argued that would be “a waste of state funds and a waste of an opportunity to do the right thing”.
She suggested Carmack’s statue be replaced with a memorial to Wells “for her pioneering work in journalism and civil rights”.
Swift also criticized the state’s house committee for voting against removing a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general who was once a top-ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan. “His statue is still standing and July 13th is ‘Nathan Bedford Forrest Day’,” Swift wrote. Recently, the Tennessee governor Bill Lee asked state senators to relieve his responsibilities to honor Nathan Bedford Forrest Day, as is currently required of Tennessee governors by state law.
Swift argued removing the commemorations would improve the lives of Black Americans residing in Tennessee. She wrote, “When you fight to honor racists, you show Black Tennesseans and all of their allies where you stand, and you continue this cycle of hurt. You can’t change history, but you can change this.”
It’s perhaps not the first time Swift has waded into Tennessee politics. During the 2018 midterm, the pop star came out against Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn. Swift criticized Blackburn’s position on reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood and urged her young fans to join up to vote. (Blackburn fundamentally won the midterm election.) In May, Swift accused Donald Trump of “stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism your entire presidency”.
In an interview with the Guardian last August, responding to a question by what critics called a narrative of “white victimhood” throughout her music career, Swift said that she was attempting to recognize her very own “white privilege” and that “it’s something that I’m still trying to educate myself on every day”.
Lois Beckett contributed to this report.